Lim: Roadmap

·2 min read

Singapore has revealed a remarkable roadmap for the future.

Only 36 deaths have been attributed to Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic — likely due to strict lockdowns and quarantine measures. Still, its leaders have come to a decision that the way forward is to accept Covid-19 as endemic and like the flu, a permanent fixture of Singapore’s future.

Adjudged unattainable, the model of zero-transmission has been shelved. No more lockdowns. No more daily Covid-19 case counts. Unrestricted gatherings, disruption-free business operations, quarantine-free travel, Covid-19 recovery at home. They’re all coming.

Is this radical roadmap for the future possible? It’s essential to know that this roadmap is premised on the success of four factors.

Mass vaccination. To date, 42.5% of Singapore’s 5.7 million population has been fully vaccinated while at least 60% has received one jab. The country is on track to fully vaccinate 2/3 or 67% of their population by Aug. 9, National Day in Singapore.

Rapid, convenient and targeted testing. While rigorous testing will continue at its borders, elsewhere, testing’s goal will no longer be to enforce quarantine but to ensure that mass gatherings take place safely. A variety of rapid tests will be rolled out in clinics, pharmacies, work premises and event venues.

Improved treatments. One of the world’s most stable economies, Singapore has access to the global supply not just of vaccines and test kits but of emerging and effective treatments to halt disease progression, reduce recovery time and save lives.

Social responsibility. Singapore’s leaders believe the key to managing the post-vaccination future also lies in the collective behavior of its people — in the practice of good personal hygiene and avoidance of high-risk behaviors.

If Singaporeans are efficient, it may be because they place a high value on meritocracy, discipline and communal harmony. If Singapore is known for impeccable cleanliness and low crime rate, it may be because it imposes corporal punishment (like caning) and exorbitant fines for a variety of infractions.

The Philippines has a population of 110 million of which less than 4% are fully vaccinated. Poverty is pervasive. Vaccines are in short supply. Treatments and test kits are beyond the reach of the general populace.

Social responsibility is corporate rather than community-embraced. Or no one would litter, pee in public or spray paint. We like to buck the rules, look for loopholes, push the envelope. We love dissent. We’re not big on discipline.

Singapore’s roadmap is ready. Yet, it releases no timeline recognizing the pandemic’s fluidity. It’s remarkable. But it’s not a roadmap we can follow. Not in our country. Not with our culture. Not now.